Indian Space Program: News & Discussions

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How ISRO’s PSLV Integration Facility launch at Sriharikota will help India’s space ecosystem

Bengaluru: In an effort to increase the number of PSLV rocket launches and launches of other small vehicles, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has built and formally launched a PSLV Integration Facility (PIF) in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota.

The new facility, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday, will enable quicker assembly and integration of the PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) and smaller rockets at the launchpad. The complex is an augmentation of the First Launch Pad (FLP) at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

The move is expected to increase PSLV launches annually, from about six to over double the number, at 12 or 15. Launches of customer satellites through India’s trustiest rocket PSLV are ISRO’s primary source of revenue. The PIF is also expected to help launch smaller rockets and private launch vehicles in the future.

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Honourable Prime Minister Lays the Foundation Stone for India's Second Spaceport
In a momentous occasion for India's space ambitions, Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi remotely laid the foundation stone for India's second spaceport at Kulasekharapattanam, a coastal village in Tamil Nadu's Thoothukudi district on February 28, 2024, at 09:45 hrs.

The selection of Kulasekharapattanam offers strategic advantages, particularly in enhancing payload capability with its direct southward launch trajectory for small launch vehicles.

The ceremony saw the esteemed presence of Shri Somanath S, Chairman, ISRO and Secretary, Department of Space (DoS), Dr. Pawan Kumar Goenka, Chairman, IN-SPACe and other senior officials.

The highlight of the event was the successful launch of the Rohini Sounding Rocket "RH200" from the newly established launch complex at 13:40 hrs IST. VSSC provided the rocket and the meteorological payload, while SDSC spearheaded the realization and installation of launch facilities including radars, launchers, and electronic systems.

The maiden launch from the new spaceport marked a significant milestone, with the RH200 rocket reaching a peak altitude of 75 km, precisely tracked by two on-site radars. The RH200 rocket, developed by VSSC, has a long-standing reputation for reliability, with this launch marking its 1928th successful mission.

Chairman, ISRO, Shri Somanath S., stated that today marks a historic day in the Indian space program as the Honorable PM laid the foundation for the second launch site, and a sounding rocket was successfully launched from the Kulasekharapattanam launch station. He further added that the launch site will be fully commissioned within 24 months and will enhance the space activities of NGEs.

Preparation for the RH200 Launch

The launch complex requirements were fulfilled through a comprehensive array of infrastructure facilities meticulously planned and executed within the shortest possible time at the new launch complex at Kulasai. The coordinated efforts of VSSC, IPRC, ISRO HQ, IISU, and SDSC-SHAR exemplified the cohesive teamwork within ISRO.

The RH 200 launch facilities were strategically laid out within the existing layout of SSLV facilities, adhering to stringent safety distance criteria. The sounding rocket launch pad coordinates were aligned with the IISU. Launchpad infrastructure, including integration & check-out facilities, assembly halls for preparation, and launch area services, were strategically grouped and sited into different zones considering functional requirements and local terrain.

The RH 200 launcher and associated systems were relocated from SDSC-SHAR and were erected, commissioned, and tested. Moreover, the portable radar of 10kw / 100µs pulse, a solid-state transmitter capable of tracking the chaff, was realized in-house with spare systems within two months. It underwent rigorous validation through continuous balloon-tracking trials.

For safe transportation of the RH 200 rocket within the launch complex, existing roads were augmented and strengthened, stretching approximately 3-4 km, transforming muddy roads into flight-worthy routes.

A comprehensive range-clearance procedure, safety and contingency plan, logistic arrangements, launch view galleries, medical facilities, fire tenders, and coastal boat patrolling, akin to SDSC-SHAR, were meticulously established, culminating in the safe and successful launch of the RH200.

Balloon Release Activities and Transportable Radar at Launch Complex at Kulasai

Balloon Release Activities and Transportable Radar at Launch Complex at Kulasai

Balloon Release Activities and Transportable Radar at Launch Complex at Kulasai